The Women, Infants and Children’s program, frequently referred to as WIC, is a supplemental food and nutrition program for pregnant women, new moms, and children under the age of 5 years old. Through the WIC program, women and children receive financial assistance in purchasing food, counseling, and information on healthy eating, breastfeeding support and information and referrals to health care and other community resources.
Who is eligible for WIC?
WIC assists pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, infants and children under the age of 5 years old. Participants are required to meet income guidelines, show proof of state residency and be considered a “nutritional risk.” WIC will provide a free health assessment to determine if you are considered a nutritional risk. (Even if you doubt you might fit this requirement, you should still contact WIC for services if you meet the other criteria.)
WIC will provide for women and children under these guidelines:
- Pregnant women— During pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after giving birth or after the pregnancy has ended.
- New Moms/Postpartum—Up to six months after the birth of the baby.
- Infants—Up to their first birthday.
- Children—Up to their fifth birthday.
What are the income requirements?
Your gross income (income before taxes) must be at or below 185 percent of the U.S. poverty income guidelines in order to be eligible for WIC according to income. This link takes you to the federal guidelines for each state. You can also contact your local WIC office. This chart is effective July 2019 to June 30 2020.
|Household size||Federal poverty guidelines—100%||Reduced price meals—185%|
|48 Contiguous States, D.C., Guam and Territories|
|Each add’l family member add||+$4,420||+ $369||+ $185||+ $170||+ $85||+ $8,177||+ $682||+ $341||+ $315||+ $158|
Certain individuals and families may automatically qualify for WIC if they already participate in programs such as Medicaid, TANF (Temporary assistance for needy families) or certain other state programs. Contact your local WIC office for more information.
What type of help does WIC specifically provide?
WIC provides much of its assistance through debit cards, checks or vouchers that participants can use in their local grocery stores. Many grocers have approved lists in their stores that identify what is covered by WIC vouchers. Foods included are items such as eggs, fortified cereal, infant cereal, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans, canned vegetables, etc. Vouchers that can be used at local farmers markets so that families can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
WIC encourages all mothers who are participating to breastfeed their infants. Women who breastfed their babies are provided with ongoing education and support, enhanced food packages and may qualify for breastfeeding supplies such as breast pumps.
If a woman cannot breastfeed her baby, WIC can provide vouchers for certain types of formula.
How do I apply?
To apply, you will need to contact your local WIC office to make an appointment. Items that you may need to bring with you may include proof of pregnancy if you are pregnant, proof of residency, proof of income and valid identification. You will need to verify with your local office what types of documentation they specifically need.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. USDA: Food and Nutrition Services
2. United States Department of Agriculture. (2014). Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): WIC income eligibility guidelines.